First a few notes on conferring the better way:
- Know that it is okay to read the blurb on the back!
- This is part of the child’s reading journey and should be treated as something sacred. Make sure you have ample time and energy to do it right rather than feeling rushed or unfocused.
- Make sure you give clear and achievable feedback, preferably in a concise manner.
- Confer about reading behaviors.
- This can be a discussion about how the child is as a reader. What is their rate of devouring books? How are they with distractions? What is their reading plan? Which books can they not wait to get their hands on? Fluency and expression can also be discussed here.
- Have them work on retelling the story. Have them discuss the main character and how that main character is developing. Other things they can discuss are the problems, the motivations, the author’s purpose, and even what big ideas they are having about the texts.
- This can be a discussion of past mini lessons you have taught and how they are using them.
- Push for a second line of inquiry. So if a child brings up one aspect, push them for one more place or one more aspect to show how they know this of the text.
- Or you can use this incredible cheat sheet for Bands of Text Level (courtesy of Teachers College) – research shows that texts that seem to be at the same level also share many of the same characteristics, so while you may not have read that particular book, if you can figure out the complexity of the text you can ascertain many general traits that the particular book may have and base your discussion on that. And while every book is not going to have these I found it interesting to think of how many books do have many of them.
There you have it. While nothing beats being able to discuss the actual book with a child because you know it yourself, there will be times when I know these strategies will help me. While I do not level my texts, I found it very interesting to see this breakdown of text complexity and how we can help students recognize how their text gets more complex.
|image from icanread|